by Audrey Fairbrother, Military Spouse and Marketing Manager for Worldwide101, a premium virtual assistant company connecting founders and executives with highly skilled, meticulously matched help.
Shifting Your Dreams And Career As A Military Spouse
I’d love to tell you that being a military spouse has had no impact on my career choices. I’d love to tell you I was able to continue everything I was doing prior while transitioning into military life. And I’d love to be able to say that I never went through a phase of ‘professional depression’ where I thought I’d lost my own identity, eating peanut butter from the jar and crying to my husband about being labeled a “dependent” (c’mon mil spouses, I know you hear me!). But none of that would be truthful. Because the truth is, it’s so, so hard. Finding a career that isn’t affected by yearly or bi-yearly moves, sudden changes in schedule, new desolate locations (shoutout to my friends at Fort Polk) or the emotional stresses of deployments, is just plain impossible.
But what I can tell you, truthfully, is that despite my best efforts at being melodramatic, I found a way to make it work. And to my surprise, it wasn’t about sacrifice, it was about shifting my thinking. I began to realize that the way I’d been approaching work was all wrong - it shouldn’t be about living life around my career, it should be about making a career around my life. (Mind blown). And that seems so simple when you think about it, but I felt so conditioned by the corporate world, so unaware of the flexible work movements taking place, that I never really believed it was possible.
So, I began to research. My whole career had been in marketing, and given the digital age we’re in, I had always known that I could easily do my job in a home setting. But when you work for a corporate company which I always had, there’s red tape and politics and old-school thinking you have to contend with when bringing up the option to work remotely. It had never worked out for me. I spent endless hours searching for already-remote marketing jobs, typed my fingers to the bone submitting countless applications to automated systems that would never see a human eye, and I began to lose hope. Until an episode of Good Morning America on a slow Tuesday morning completely changed my trajectory.
The segment was about a website called Flexjobs, and they specialized in providing only legitimate flexible and remote job listings. So, I grabbed my laptop and signed up for a membership. After a bit of browsing, I came across a listing for a Virtual Marketing Assistant for a company called Worldwide101. I had never really heard much about virtual assistance, I honestly thought it was a industry that only existed offshore. But the more I read, the more excited I became. The job was essentially just everything I had been doing in my previous marketing roles, but virtually, and for a host of different, exciting clients in various industries.
I applied, I was hired, and 4 years later, I’m still with the same company, legitimately loving what I do everyday. And enjoying what I do at work everyday isn’t even the best part (whhhaaaa?!). The best part, is enjoying the new, flexible life it has allowed me to have. And not just with location - but with my schedule and work/life balance as well. I work from around 7am - 3pm (my choice, I’m a morning person - I know, it’s an affliction.) I take my dog for walks over lunch, and I pick my daughter up from her childcare earlier than most parents can and get to spend the whole afternoon with her. I work from wherever I want - my comfy home office, the coffee shop, my parents house during deployments, the YMCA during my daughter's swim lessons. And the kicker - I get more done than I ever have before. I feel more balanced and more productive in my new role. I have more motivation than I ever have before to do my best work because I love my job, and I love the life it provides me.
And the best news? You can do the same thing. Since beginning my virtual career, I’ve become aware of so many movements, resources, and thought leaders working to lead the remote work revolution. Sites like Hire Mad Skills, InGear Career, and MilSpouse Resource focus on helping military spouses find work that actually works for folks like us. I’d encourage you to check them out if you’re on the job hunt.
Here’s the bottom line. Military spouses are innately and incredibly resourceful. It’s in our blood and it’s a trait we need to continue cultivating to survive this turbulent, unpredictable lifestyle. You can apply that resourcefulness to your career search and you can find something that fits - all it takes is a little shift in thinking. So put down the peanut butter honey, you got this, and we’re all rooting for you!